At this time of year we are reminded of the British & German troops fighting on the the Western Front who on Christmas Day 1914, ceased fighting, sang carols, played football & exchanged family photos. The British & German Generals safely tucked up in their Chateaus were furious and quickly ordered the men back to their trenches to fight.
“I was dead beat and snatching a few hours rest in my dugout when I heard the strains of ‘It’s a Long Long Way to Tipperary’ followed by ‘Deutschand Uber Alles’. I climbed out over the parapet and saw the strangest sight which can ever be seen by any soldier in any war. All along the line groups of British and German soldiers were laughing and singing together. Just Imagine it: English, Scots, Irish, Prussians, Wutemburgers in a chorus. I wrote a report on the whole fantastic episode and ended by saying that if I had seen it on film I would have sworn it was a fake.”
Captain Sir John Hulse, 2nd Battalion Scots Guards in a letter to his mother.
Furious at having lost a days fighting both High Commands ordered these units to other parts of the front. Many of those who took part in the truce, including the writer of the above letter, were killed within three months.
The last survivor of the Western Front was Harry Patch (1898-2009). He described that war a “A war over a family feud”. Harry was married for 57 years but in that time he never spoke to his wife, or their two sons, about his wartime experiences, nor would he watch any war films or attend any military reunion or remembrance celebration. He described the November 11th Remembrance Day Ceremonies as “just show business”. He said he would never return to Belgium where he had fought and been wounded. After his 100th birthday Harry felt a duty to speak about his time in the trenches. He said “No war is worth the loss of a couple of lives, let alone thousands.”
In many ways not a lot has changed since 1914. We are fighting a pointless war in Afghanistan, which is planned to end in 2014. In the meantime soldiers will be killed, injured and traumatised. Afghans will be killed, injured and traumatised. Why?
Veterans for Peace exists to end war. This year we became an international organisation. We invite and welcome any ex-Servicemen/women who would like to join us in our campaign for world peace. We call for veterans around the world to form chapters in their own countries. Together in the spirit of the 1914 truce we can stop this madness.
Rob Bates & Ben Griffin
Welcome aboard Edward!
It is heartening to see the formation of a VFP chapter in Ireland. As the new president of San Diego VFP, I’d like to offer any help we might give. Various peace organizations and individuals are coming to San Diego April 4-8 to for a week of activities calling for and end to all this drone madness. Many of the UAVs are designed and manufactured here. Perhaps we could coordinate activities.
My report on our visit to Shannon Airport and the activities of Shannonwatch was well-received by our chapter. You have allies here in the US.
Happy holiday season to all in Veterans for Peace, US, UK, Ireland and elsewhere. Unjustified wars such as World War 1 are continuing in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria,DR Congo and elsewhere. British and German troops and a small number of Irish so-called neutral state troops are now serving with ISAF in Afghanistan where they are causing havoc and achieving only counter-productive results at the cost of thousands of lives.
Peace and best wishes from Veterans for Peace Ireland